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    [RC] Blanketing, winter weather, and bathing horses - Sue Brown

    I'm a little late on this thread but thought I'd throw in my $.02 --
    realizing, of course, that our winter weather is pretty unique and these
    methods may or may not work for anyone else. <g>
    I live on the west side of the Cascade mountains in Washington state.
    It's a very beautiful area with lots of greenery and trees...but it
    takes quite a bit of rain to make it that way.  Winter, where we live,
    is pretty much a series of 3-day weather patterns...nice day, drizzly
    day, rainy day, then repeat, with the temps mostly between 35 and 50.
    We ride in the rain all of time...lots of polarfleece and goretex with
    neoprene kayaking gloves (from REI.)  Where we usually ride is a great
    training area with lots of trail in the trees and gravel roads.  Some of
    the trails get a pretty mucky in the rain so we skip those during the
    winter season but those still usable (and there are quite a lot) are
    sheltered so the rain coming down on us is minimized...and we rarely
    have any lightning.  This area, of about 30k acres, is nearly empty on
    rainy days except for the endurance riders (who will ride in any
    weather!! <g>)  It's quite impressive to have this amount of land to
    ourselves and a whole parking lot with (maybe) one other rig!
    I blanket my horses with a lightweight, waterproof blankets -- they just
    need protection from the rain and not extra insulation -- just got them
    back from the blanket service where they get cleaned, repaired, and
    rewaterproofed for about $25 each.  If I didn't blanket the horses, they
    would be constantly wet and extremely muddy...not a good thing to put a
    saddle on.  We pull off their blankets and they're clean and dry. <vbg>
    Some also have a tendency to get cold in the rain since they are fairly
    thin skinned, thin coated Arabs...my husband's QH has never had a
    blanket on but doesn't roll much and has a thick coat of winter hair so
    hasn't really needed one (however, my husband now wants equal treatment
    for Sherry so she gets a blanket this year anyway, by request. <g>)  A
    couple of the horses who have a very good winter coat get blanketed
    anyway since they're schooling horses and need to be dry (so the
    students can put the saddles on dry backs.)  
    All of the horses in my barn come in for the night so they have a chance
    to dry off every night (and we've never had scratches in 20
    years...knock on wood.)  They all have attached paddocks on their stalls
    so could go outside if they wanted to...most prefer to stand in the
    stall, out of the rain, and just stick their heads out. The stalls are
    big (12x16) and have a cement floor with mats and shavings on the
    mats...and good food. <g>  
    When we go riding, we take 5-gal. buckets of hot water with us in the
    truck.  After the ride we scrub off the mud and sweat marks with the hot
    water (then just *warm* but very pleasant.) We clean the area around and
    under the saddle, their belly, and their legs (which are usually very
    muddy.)  Once they've been squeegied as much as possible, we put on
    polarfleece blankets and then haul them home.  They're fairly dry when
    we get home so we switch them to their Jammies (to keep their shoulders
    from getting rubbed hairless by the blankets) and their waterproof
    Our tack is either biothane or neoprene (and we can just dunk them in a
    bucket also) and the saddle seat has sheepskin on it.  We have
    waterproof (human) leg gaiters attached to the cantle that hold extra
    dry gloves, hat, and cover-up should we need them.  The horses have rump
    rugs on also if it's *cold* and raining.  The riders usually have on
    capilene, polarfleece, and goretex (in that order), including goretex
    pants if needed.  As with the horses, our comfort is directly related to
    keeping ourselves dry. [duh]  We have visors on the helmets that help
    keep the rain off of our faces...and polarfleece hoods that we can put
    on over the helmets besides polarfleece skull caps under the helmets.
    Some of our best rides have been when it has been lightly raining!
    Sue (one of the crazy endurance riders who will ride in anything!)
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